An Essay on Natural Family Planning | Dr. Charles W. Norris, M.D. | HPR
The Catholic Church has never opposed family planning, but she teaches through her Magisterium, or teaching authority, that man may not, of his own volition, separate the two meanings of the conjugal act, the unitive and the procreative, because these meanings are willed by God himself.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) as a function of God’s will is also a function of the natural law. For years, we have been waging war on our fertility in the practice of artificial birth control to the point that many countries, especially in the West, are demographically below replacement levels. On the other hand, while vast numbers of women are ignorant of the significance of those changing mucus sensations, modern methods of NFP, if the intention is to avoid/postpone pregnancy, are scientifically secure. Natural Family Planning also has several advantages which benefit the marriage. Concluding, the article proposes (read please) that all Catholic physicians begin to conduct “NFP- Only” practices.
Following my becoming aware of the Billings Ovulation Method™ in November of 1973, I went through a conversion experience because I saw its value. Since that time, as an obstetrician/gynecologist, I supported, promoted, and taught the method both in, and outside of, my practice. At the same time, I saw no need to become certified because of my in-depth understanding of reproductive physiology. Fast forward 40 years. In July 2013, an opportunity to take formal certification training in the Method presented itself. I did so and was very much impressed with the excellent presentation(s) of the two women trainers, Kim Cole, and Erika Watkins. Conclusion: I only wish I had taken this training 30 years ago!
The doctors John and Lyn Billings (R.I.P.) are two of my heroes. A photograph of both of them graces my bedroom wall. My support and promotion of the Billings Ovulation MethodTM stems from its essential simplicity. The Method is based on the sensations a woman feels at the vulva and contains only four rules–three pre-ovulatory and one post-ovulatory. While most women have taught themselves to ignore those changing mucus sensations, once the cause and effect of their existence is suggested to a woman, she can no longer ignore the physiologic symptoms of her fertility. I believe that Dr. John Billings, et al, will go down in the annals of medical research as some of the very greatest.
“Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” Thus reads the fourth clause of the Our Father. The problem is that his will is not being done on Earth. While this may sound somewhat rudimentary, it is the truth. But how do we know the will of God? St. Thomas Aquinas, following the lead of St. Augustine, defined three types of law that define the will of God: Eternal Law, Divine Law, and Natural Law. There is another kind of Law: Human Law, which is valid only when just. This paper will focus on the Natural Law and its implications for mankind. But what is Natural Law? Natural Law is a rule of reason, promulgated by God in man’s nature, whereby man can discern how he/she should act so that good is to be done, and evil is to be avoided. In its simplest form, Natural Law commands us: “to do good and avoid evil, 1 and St. Augustine maintained that this law is written on the heart of every person.
If the first of God’s gifts to us is the gift of life itself, then one may argue that our second most precious gift is the gift of our fertility. God’s first command to Adam and Eve after the fall was to “be fruitful and multiply.”